As the Bush administration urged law enforcement officers and civilians to “be on the highest alert” in the aftermathof the F.B.I. warning of an imminent attack against the US, federal law enforcement agents raided medical marijuanaproviders across California yesterday. Federal agents raided at least three clubs, in San Francisco, Oakland andPetaluma. According to the San Francisco Independent Media Center, they raided five other sites as well. The Oaklandhome of long-time cannabis activist Ed Rosenthal, and the Sixth Street Harm Reduction Center in San Francisco, amedical marijuana club, were among the first raids by Drug Enforcement Agency officials. Four were arrested at thecenter. They face between 40 years to life in prison. The Harm Reduction Center serves about 200 patients a day, allwith doctors’ recommendations to get the drug. Many suffer chronic pain from AIDS and cancer.
The raids come on the very day the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy released a new strategy inthe war on drugs, aiming to reduce use of illegal drugs 25 percent in five years.
The administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Asa Hutchinson, met a hostile audience later in the day atthe Commonwealth Club in San Francisco as he explained the stepped up drug war. Protesters demonstrated outside histalk on the vision of the DEA, which he called “LET’S DON’T PUNT ON THE 3RD DOWN.”
San Francisco officials say the raid and Hutchinson’s simultaneous visit were the latest insults in an ongoing battlebetween local and federal officials. The Supreme Court said last year that it is illegal to distribute marijuana formedical purposes. But San Francisco law enforcement officials have said their job is to enforce the laws ofCalifornia, where voters overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana use. Voters in Arizona, Alaska, California,Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have all approved ballot initiatives allowing the use of medicalmarijuana.
- Judy Appel, Drug Policy Alliance.
- Don Duncan, Alliance of Berkeley Patients.